They say never ask a woman her age, or a man his salary.
About 6 pm yesterday I discovered the missing line of the riddle, and it goes something along the lines of ‘never ask the government to mass-produce Spanish cuisine for those in isolation'.
Well, to be fair, I didn’t technically ask for it.
But nevertheless, with a soggy cardboard-y empanada the sole solution to eight hours of starvation, down the hatch it went and no more was said or thought about it.
Three days into mandatory segregation from the public, the realisation mealtime is indeed the highlight from sunrise to sunset is increasingly apparent, making it the prime contender for subject material most likely to be put to the sword in this daily account.
I don’t have any gripes about getting tray-fed over for the next 11 days — it’s actually quite a unique and interesting experience (maybe that’s just the mind-warping effect of being cooped up in a 3 m x 5 m box). But for our sake, keep it simple Scott and co.
For me, yesterday’s culinary confusion was akin to Domino's rolling out an amuse-bouche stuffed crust — just a bit out of their league.
But enough of that rant, as I woke up this morning to another unpleasant surprise. No, not a second empanada but something just about as fun to put down your throat — a swab.
As a precursor the nurse warned, “if I don’t make you cry, I’m not doing it right”.
I am 99 per cent sure they stole that from Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but I digress.
Having your nasal canals violated and uvula attacked isn’t the most famous way to start a day, so to remedy the situation I have set about finding ways to occupy moments away from my time tapping the keys.
The first method came in the form of heeding my 90-year-old grandmothers’ advice about having two showers a day as “that’ll take up a bit of time”.
Much appreciated Nan, but sadly I can’t use all of Victoria’s water supply on four-hour stretches underneath the faucet pondering life’s existential mysteries.
So, what else can I do to fill the day?
In the first afternoon of ISO I (my initial confinement period in New Zealand in early April), I’d struck gold by discovering my older brother’s acoustic guitar gathering dust and decided to put it to use.
Convinced I could summon my inner Eddie Van Halen while bored out of my tree, I set about building callouses and training my fingers to develop dexterity, all in the hopes of earning the badge of ‘annoying guy who plays Wonderwall at parties’.
That swiftly went out the window.
Proclaiming I had any talent would be to liken myself to Pinocchio’s penchant for nose protrusion, rather than the string-pulling prowess of Geppetto — but the lengths I’d go to now for a bit of musical comfort are immeasurable.
With shower singing solos now the only respite, I’m sure Nan would be retracting her earlier statement in order to save neighbours from the unneeded aural indignation.
● Liam Nash is a journalist at The News who is in 14 days of isolation in a Melbourne hotel after returning to Australia from New Zealand.